A Brief History Of Makeup

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Wondering where your favorite blush comes from? And why do we use mascara? Well, modern cosmetics have their roots in the roaring 20s. However, the art of decorating one’s face was common well before that date and by many ancient populations, by both men and women–think about the ancient Egyptians.

The flapper era in the 1920s gave a boost to the cosmetics industry, as in the previous decades makeup was mostly used by prostitutes. The trend of the decade consisted in red lips (particularly the Cupid’s bow shape), red blush applied following a circular shape and a lot of kohl for the eyes.

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Those were the years when beauty products you can now find in any girl’s purse started to take shape: the first mascaras which looked a lot like toothbrushes, the first nail polish (rigorously pink, since any other shade was considered a sign of being easy); Max Factor was the first to create an uncrackable foundation like the one used in Hollywood movies. Coco Chanel made the suntan popular, after centuries of pale skin being considered as a sign of prestige, compared to the farmers’ sunburnt complex.

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The anti-cosmetic movement, going hand in hand with the feminist wave, became pretty popular in the 60s. In the 70s, a substantial division between day makeup and night makeup emerged, keeping day looks more natural compared to the trendier and more dramatic looks to use for a night out.

Subcultures, of course, had other tastes. While hippies preferred a natural look, punks went for dark, shocking shades, and the glam subculture went for glitters–think Abba, big time.

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In the latest decades, a concern about cosmetic products’ safety brought in the game a considerable amount of brands dedicated to the production of all-natural cosmetics. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to browse the isles trying on every shade of lipstick to find the one just right for us. Our freedom concerning cosmetics use is such that is no surprise how the no-makeup makeup trend became so popular on the latest runways.

Like any trend ever, beauty trends change constantly, but the technologies and techniques of production are obviously continuously refined. Trends mean revivals, too; I am pretty sure I spotted some bright light blue eyelid on one or two SS15 runways.  But would you go back to toothbrush-like mascara? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

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